Counting Down to Knoebels

By Tim Kelchner |

Published 04/25 2014 11:51AM

Updated 04/25 2014 11:58AM

Elysburg, Northumberland County – The park will be packed.  The rides will be flying.  The crowds will be screaming with delight.

There is just a little work left to do as fans count down the days to the opening of Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg on Saturday.

That includes work on a ride that’s been under construction for the past seven years.

“The 1st flying turns were built in the 1920’s, and it was built by a guy named Norman Bartlett,” says Knoebels spokesman Joe Muscato as he walks up to the twisting, turning woodwork of the ride.  “He hoped to create some of the sensations of flying for the general public.” 

Loyal Knoebels visitors remember that the Flying Turns opened for 12 days at the end of last year, but 2014 will be the first full season at the park.  Part of the lengthy process included making each car as authentic as possible to make the riders feel like they’re flying in a cockpit. 

“You can sit 2 front and back with a seatbelt around front, explains Muscato.  “There’s painted wings, and a panel with aviation instruments.”

Each car takes off out of a hanger and reaches a maximum speed of 24 miles-per-hour, which may not seem fast, but Muscato says the tight turns and high walls make the ride feel much faster and gives it a unique experience.

“The best thing about this ride? It’s the only one in the world.  The others have been torn down and haven’t been around for 40 years and we’ve recreated a classic here.”

The classic theme continues with the 2 other new kiddie rides this year at Knoebels. 

There is a dry boat ride and a pony cart ride, both manufactured by the WF Mangels company out of Coney Island.

“These rides harken back to the 40’s and 50’s,” according to Muscato.  “A lot of people my age will remember riding something like this in their youth, so now they can share it with their youth.”

The crown jewel of Knoebels, the famous Phoenix roller coaster, got its annual face lift as well, as pieces of the track were replaced.

Muscato says restoring their current rides is just as important as adding a new one.   

“We’re not a museum, we’re an amusement park, but we do enjoy maintaining the classic thrills you won’t find in other places.”

The park opens is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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